It’s February 1, so that means that we’ve got yet another special post on a film featuring birthday boy Clark Gable! This time, it’s his 1960 film It Started In Naples, also starring Sophia Loren and Vittorio De Sica!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Pay As You Exit (1936)
(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 6 (1936-1938) from ClassicFlix)
(Length: 10 minutes, 41 seconds)
The Gang put on their own production of “Romeo and Juliet” (if you can call it that), but to convince the local kids to see it, Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) comes up with the brilliant idea for them to pay as they exit. Also, trouble arises when Darla (Darla Hood) abandons the show partway through. This one was fairly entertaining, in between Spanky’s (George McFarland) reaction to Alfalfa’s “pay as you exit” idea, and their whole show. In some respects, the short has its issues with Buckwheat’s initial role in their show, but it more than makes up for it when he is recast as Juliet (with the approval of the audience). I had fun with this one, and certainly think that it’s worth seeing!
And Now For The Main Feature…
American lawyer Michael Hamilton (Clark Gable) has come to Naples, Italy, to settle his late brother’s affairs. He meets up with Italian lawyer Mario Vitale (Vittorio De Sica), who reveals that Michael’s brother had died in a boating accident with his mistress. The two had left behind their eight-year-old son, who now lives with his aunt. Mario takes Michael to meet the aunt, Lucia Curcio (Sophia Loren), who wants nothing to do with Michael and leaves for her home in Capri. Michael is determined to find out if he does indeed have a nephew, and follows her to Capri. There, he meets his nephew, Nando Hamilton (Carlo Angeleti “Marietto”), and is willing to let things be. When he finds himself stuck overnight in Capri (because the boat schedule was wrong), Michael finds Nando distributing flyers for the adult nightclub that his aunt works at. Unhappy at his nephew being up so late (and not getting much of an education at school), Michael threatens to have Nando taken away from Lucia and sent to the American school in Rome. Angry with Michael, Lucia convinces Nando to go to school, and enlists the help of her neighbors to stop Michael from taking Nando away. While he prepares to bring suit against Lucia, Michael spends some time with Nando in an attempt to help persuade him to go along with his plans instead of Lucia’s. Hoping to avoid going to court (and play matchmaker at the same time), Mario secretly talks to Michael and Lucia, telling both of them that the other has some affection for them, which could help solve the problem. It works for a while, as the two fall for each other. However, when Nando tries to ask Michael if he will marry his aunt Lucia, Michael tries to avoid it, which results in the two adults being back at each other’s throats. Will they be able to solve their fight in court amicably, or will Nando be torn between them?
It Started In Naples (1960) was shot on location, with the interiors done at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios, while the exteriors were done in Rome, Naples itself and the island of Capri. Sophia Loren had grown up in Naples, but her return was marked by controversy due to her recent “marriage” to Carlo Ponti (who was in the process of divorcing his first wife). Clark Gable was very professional i his work ethic, but maintained in his contract that he would only work from nine to five (and wore a wristwatch that buzzed at five to let him know that he was done for the day). Filmmaker and actor Vittorio De Sica was brought into the production to help give it more of a Neopolitan flavor with the script, and did so by suggesting they work with writer Suso Cecchi d’Amico. As a result, Vittorio was also given the role of lawyer Mario Vitale. For Clark Gable (who had recently suffered a mild heart attack but continued to drink and smoke heavily), this film would turn out to be the last one he made that was released during his lifetime, as he died of a heart attack nearly three months after the film’s release (after having completed The Misfits).
This was my first time seeing It Started In Naples (1960), and I will admit that I enjoyed it! I have no problem admitting that Clark Gable was the main reason that I wanted to see it (particularly for this series of posts), and he certainly didn’t let me down. I thought that he and Sophia Loren had pretty good chemistry, which helped offset some of the lesser material here (which was plentiful, as the film stayed well within romantic comedy territory, and the film’s ending seemed to wrap up a little too quickly, in my opinion). I’ve seen it said by numerous others that the film has three stars, with the third (after Clark and Sophia) being Italy itself, and I can’t deny that this is indeed true. A good part of the fun here is seeing a lot of the beautiful Italian scenery (circa 1960). I would also say that Vittorio De Sica as the lawyer Mario Vitale adds some fun, in between his attempted matchmaking, plus his court monologue (spoken mostly in Italian), which almost seems to favor his opponent (instead of his own client!), even if he does have his sexist moment obviously ogling Lucia’s (Sophia Loren) legs. Again, the story isn’t really the film’s strongest point (and quite frankly, I’m not too thrilled with Carlo Angeleti’s performance as the kid Nando, either), but the whole thing was certainly enough fun that I would be glad to see it again. Clark Gable was definitely getting older and wasn’t at his best, but he’s still good enough to make it worth recommending (and his co-star Sophia Loren, along with the scenery, adds to the appeal)!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with…It Started In Naples (1960)
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Pictures. As I said, I hadn’t seen the film before (at least, not before the new Blu-ray), so I don’t know how it looked before. Reading comments on what others have said, there was a new transfer made between the film’s DVD release and the recent Blu-ray. The transfer on the new Blu-ray looks absolutely gorgeous! There really isn’t any dust, dirt or other debris marring the picture, and the detail is fantastic! It really show off the Italian scenery (not to mention the cast), which to my mind makes this Blu-ray worthwhile for those interested in the movie!
Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
My Rating: 7/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
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